Working Notes: Social media and workplace bullying, HR best practices for teachers, and midlife career switches

A few items worth noting:

1. Grad student Cecilia Akuffo’s New Journalism Project — An appreciative shout out to Cecilia Akuffo, a Northeastern University graduate student in journalism, who did a multimedia course project on my work relating to workplace bullying and the role of blogging.

Go here for her Workplace Practices blog post and here (or click above) for the interview posted to YouTube. (That’s my messy office in the background!)

2. ILO handbook on best HR practices for teachers — The International Labour Organization — the United Nations agency charged with advancing policies and practices for the well-being of workers — has published the first edition of the Handbook of Good Human Resource Practices in the Teaching Profession (2012). Even better, it’s available in a free pdf file in English, Spanish, and French. Here’s how the ILO describes the handbook:

Module 1 presents the recruitment and employment of teachers, based on the principles of equal opportunity, non-discrimination and professional competence. Module 2 further develops themes on conditions of employment, including leave entitlement and career development. Module 3 discusses the professional roles, responsibilities and accountability of teachers, while Module 4 examines the work environment, including hours of work and workload; class size and pupil–teacher ratios; and issues of health and safety. The question of teacher reward, salaries and incentives policies is discussed in Module 5, while Module 6 deals with the question of social security. Module 7 considers social dialogue and labour relations within the teaching profession. Questions regarding initial and further teacher education and training are examined in Module 8.

For school boards, school administrators, and teachers unions, it’s definitely worth a good look.

3. Marci Alboher on midlife career switches — Lawyer-turned-writer Marci Alboher writes about people deciding to pursue more meaningful work in their 40s, 50s, and 60s in a piece for the New York Times:

My reinvention wasn’t easy. After about two years, I weaned myself from the law and re-emerged as a journalist. It took a lot of work — classes, conferences, networking with writers and editors, learning from mentors 10 years my junior. In time I was getting regular assignments and writing for publications that included The New York Times. Even today, more than 10 years into my new career, I earn only two-thirds of what I was making in my last law job. But the trade-offs are worth it.

The subject of career reinvention was so fascinating to me that it’s become front and center in my current work. These days I’m working for, a nonprofit that focuses on so-called encore careers. As people hit their 50th and 60th birthdays and realize they are far from done with work, millions are moving into new careers that combine making a living and a difference.

She is the author of a newly-published book, Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life (2013). My copy arrived today; it looks like a very useful read.


9 responses

  1. David,
    I am a follower of your blog. Following my having been targeted by an abusive principal (known for years by my school district), I attended Drs. Ruth’s and Gary’s Namies training. I alert you to a National Education Association article called “Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools.” Here’s the address:

    I am one of the participants. There are, to date, 660 comments from bullied educators from across the nation. To put that in perspective, the next most popular article has 25 comments. I am communicating privately with some of the participants; those courageous enough to email me.

    Also, from my website,, I link to the Kemp Mill Elementary School law suit. That principal’s behavior, found true or not, is outrageous. Montgomery County School Disrict’s denial of its happening is even more outrageous. These are the kinds of things regular folk simply can’t believe…unleass it’s happened to them. I am a “regular folk.” It’s happened to me.


    Kim Werner

    • Kim, thank you for sending that link and for becoming an advocate for change. The comments to these articles are telling — dozens if not hundreds of people sharing their experiences and saying we have to do something about this.

      • David,

        Those of us communicating on the NEA site about the pervasiveness of workplace bullying in our nation’s schools–indeed the NEA article is called “Bullying of Teachers Pervasive in Many Schools”–are troubled. None of our recent comments are posting. We are “stuck” at 682. NEA and Cindy Long, the article’s writer, are, thus far, unresponsive as to the reason why that is happening.

        Although I know little about statistical analysis, I do know each educator courageous enough to communicate on the NEA site represents a significant number of other abused and frightened educators from around the nation. That’s important. By the numbers of comments, there is no denying the pervasiveness of workplace bullying in schools. We believe NEA can help.

        I include here a quote from David Lawrence Jr., Chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida. I often turn to Mr. Lawrence’s quote as a guide to staying the course. It is not an easy course.

        Here’s the quote:

        “Real progress requires pushing and shoving and urging and cajoling and coaxing – and then pushing some more (courteously when you can, not so mannerly if the former doesn’t work).”

        Those of us who are communicating on the NEA site have courteously pushed, shoved, urged, cajoled and coaxed NEA to address the prevalence of workplace bullying in our nation’s schools– so far to no avail. Maybe the New Workplace Institute can help us in our courteous–perhaps “not so mannerly”– quest for NEA’s assistance.

        Thanks so much. I look forward to your response.

        Kim Werner

        Kim Werner

      • Kim, I wish that I could be of more active assistance, but unfortunately the New Workplace Institute isn’t in a position to engage in such advocacy efforts on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals. Much of it is due to lack of time and resources; I’m loaded up with commitments, and taking on more is not wise at this point. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about bullying of teachers in the future, and I hope that will be helpful toward raising awareness of this severe problem in the schools.

  2. Hello,
    I was/am a frequent bullying victim. When the NEA “bullying blog” opened up, I was one of the original contributors, and continued to post throughout the 682 posts. I stopped for a while for a few reasons: I was asked to give my name to a reporter or writer. This caused an amazingly fearful response. If I am identified, I get fired for insubordination or some other “just” cause. Secondly, a family medical crisis came out of nowhere which sent our family into crisis mode. Third, my financial status has plummeted due to the basic fact that I have not gotten a raise in years, and everything else costs more. I am trying to cope with constant financial set backs, including losing payment for my part time job due to factors beyond my control, a fire in the engine of my car, an emergency well drilling to keep water in my house. It seems that all forces are against me. My one place where I could really vent, find support, and share experiences has now been suddenly and inexplicably shut down. It seems that we really were being observed while we were posting. I had the dark feeling of dread: as in: do not identify yourself at all costs, or your “friends” at the NEA will shut you down and “turn on you”. Well, it has been confirmed by Kim Werner, that it is true, we really have been shut down. I needed that blog. I still need it. Now what?

  3. Dear Joe Shmoe,

    I remember telling people I felt as if I were being chased by demons. Every aspect of my life was out of control. The mechanical problems, medical issues, family crises, financial issues, and creepy negative experiences were relentless (on top of the bullying). It was overwhelming and by far the worse time of my life.

    I am no longer a member of the LinkedIn Workplace Bullying group, but I found a LOT of support there.

  4. David,

    Your writing about the pervasiveness of workplace bullying for teachers is exactly what bullied teachers need. Thank you! I sent the NEA article’s link ( to you so that you would know of the numbers. Although 682 responses is significant, there would be many more responses by now if participants’ responses were posting. In fact, new people were joining us. That article had become a “go-to” place of some catharsis for bullied teachers from across the nation. I and others find it troubling that responses are not now–and I don’t want to use the word “allowed”–posting.

    Again, sincere thanks.

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